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Daily Drip

10 Chinese Athletes that Won Our Hearts at Tokyo 2020 Olympics

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The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games is nearing its conclusion, with the closing ceremony scheduled for 8 PM local time (Tokyo) on Sunday, August 8. With the end now in sight, we’ve rounded up 10 athletes from Team China that wowed us and viewers worldwide — from Sunisa Lee’s best friend, 16-year-old Chinese gymnast Guan Chenchen, to the first Chinese man to enter the men’s 100-meter final at the Olympics, Su Bingtian.

1. Su Bingtian 

Su Bingtian (苏炳添) is a name that you definitely should know. At the age of 31, he broke the Asian record in the semifinal of the men’s 100-meter event in Tokyo and became the first Chinese man and the first Asian man since 1932 to enter the final round. His semifinal performance is only 0.25 seconds behind the world record set by the legendary Usain Bolt.

Su Bingtian

Su Bingtian wins the men’s 100-meter semi-final. Image via 视觉中国

2. Guan Chenchen

Hmong American Sunisa Lee made history in Tokyo by winning gold in the Olympic gymnastics all-around event, and one of her besties is 16-year-old Chinese medalist Guan Chenchen (管晨辰). One of RADII’s favorite moments of the Tokyo Olympics was when Lee rushed over to congratulated her friend on achieving gold in the women’s balance beam event. Lee was proud, and so were we.

3. Quan Hongchan

Guangdong native Quan Hongchan (全红婵) was one of the more notable dark horses at this year’s Games. She achieved three perfect scores out of five dives in the final round of the 10-meter platform diving event, winning a well-deserved gold medal. What touched the hearts of netizens the most, though, is the 14-year-old’s commitment to supporting her mother, who is battling an illness. “My mom’s medical treatment is expensive. I suppose if I dive well in the competitions, I can earn money for her treatment,” said Quan.

Quan Hongchan

Quan Hongchan at the women’s 10-meter platform diving final. Image via 视觉中国

4. Lü Xiaojun

For years, fans of 37-year-old Chinese weightlifter Lü Xiaojun (吕小军) have been calling him “exceptionally handsome,” and his weightlifting videos have always been popular on YouTube. In Tokyo, he took home another gold medal in the men’s 81-kilogram competition, becoming the oldest weightlifting champion in modern Olympic history.

Lü Xiaojun at the men’s 81-kilogram weightlifting event. Image via 视觉中国

5. Li Fabin

Men’s weightlifting champion Li Fabin (李发彬) astounded the public with an exceptional performance in Tokyo. Among Chinese netizens, his ground-breaking pose has been affectionally termed “Golden Rooster Independent Stance.” At the same time, the 28-year-old’s victory and unique stance have also inspired many illustrations and memes. Oh, and in case you didn’t hear, Li’s balls are totally fine.

6. Hou Zhihui

This incredible women’s weightlifter won gold in the 49-kilogram event, but what truly stole the show was her thermal water bottle and essential balm. During the competition, Hou Zhihui (侯志慧) was captured calmly taking sips of hot water from a thermal water bottle, and her coach also handed her essential balm for sniffing. Through a series of memes and posts, netizens jokingly proclaimed that this was the “mysterious power of the East.” After her win, these two essential items even made it to Weibo’s trending list of searches.

Translation: “No rush, first take a sip of tea.” Image via Weibo

7. Li Wenwen

Powerhouse Li Wenwen (李雯雯) broke the Olympic weightlifting record and walked away with a gold medal. Many Chinese netizens have remarked on her athletic achievement and the adorable stature difference between Li and her coach. A trending Weibo post has even compared them to Po and Master Shifu in Kung Fu Panda.

Li Wenwen and her coach. Screengrab via Weibo

8. Shi Tingmao

Winning gold in the women’s 3-meter springboard diving competition is no easy feat, but winning by nearly 35 points is astounding. However, Shi Tingmao (施廷懋) is also remarkable in another way: After her victory, she opened up about her prior struggle with depression and how she had considered quitting diving at one point. In a press conference following the competition, Shi joined Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka to start conversations about mental health for athletes.

Shi Tingmao

Shi Tingmao wins gold in the women’s 3-meter springboard diving event. Image via 视觉中国

9. Yang Qian

Champion shooter Yang Qian (杨倩) won the first gold medal of the Tokyo Olympics in the women’s 10-meter air rifle event. Her cold demeanor on the shooting range, though, contrasts starkly with her cute personality. Yang struck an iconic pose during the award ceremony, forming a heart shape with her arms. This unexpected act of celebration has transformed her into an internet meme. Stickers and cartoons of her pose have become wildly popular, especially among Chinese youths.

Yang Qian’s pose. Image via Weibo.

10. Lu Yunxiu

Lu Yunxiu (卢云秀) secured gold in the women’s windsurfing event, paving the way for Chinese athletes in water sports. To celebrate her victory, she jumped into the water and passionately hugged her competitors. In a hilarious twist of events, Chinese netizens mistook her dive into the water as a heroic attempt to rescue someone. Later on, when interviewed on a show, Lu revealed that she only recently learned how to swim. After this clarification, netizens lovingly poke fun at her unique celebration method.

Cover image via 视觉中国

RADII Staff
RADII (rā'dē-ī') is an independent platform of artists, writers and creators dedicated to sharing vibrant stories from the rarely explored sides of new China.